After Delhi high, hopes dim in Glasgow

  • Saurabh Duggal, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: May 11, 2014 12:59 IST

The opportunity was there for the taking, and making use of the home advantage, India came up with its best performance at the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG), crossing the three-figure mark for the first time to finish with a whopping 101 medals.

As a result of the windfall, India pipped England to the second spot in the medals tally on account of their better gold medal count — the hosts had 38 gold, one more than their fancied rivals.

The momentum was carried forward to the London Olympics in 2012, and the country came up with another first — winning six medals in shooting, wrestling, boxing and badminton.

The Glasgow CWG (July 23-August 3) is round the corner, and the focus is on whether India will go a step better than the Delhi Games. A calculation has been drawn up by the Sports Authority of India (SAI), and it is based on the assessment of coaches attached with the teams.

“We are expecting around 70 medals in Glasgow,” Jiji Thomson, director general, SAI, told HT.

Going by this estimate, India’s tally will be down by 30-35 medals from the previous edition. If one were to take a realistic view, the medal count could be lesser. we have given everything that was asked of us. The only cut has been on foreign outings as compared to the last edition,” said Thomson.

In 2010, India won 12 medals in athletics, which included Krishna Poonia’s gold in women’s discus and a top spot in the women’s 4x400 m relay. Winning medals in Glasgow will be a far bigger challenge.

Generally, the athletics season gets over by September, as a result many of the world’s top athletes decided to skip the Delhi Games, which were held in October.

Things will be different this time, as the Games are taking place in July-August. Moreover, there will be no home advantage for the athletes. At the Melbourne Games in 2006, Indian athletes had won just two medals --- a silver for Seema Antil in discus throw and the women’s 4x400 m relay.

All is not lost. India can harbour hopes in men’s and women’s discus throw while the women long distance runners too can contribute to the tally. Discus thrower Vikas Gowda, who won silver in the Diamond League, is a huge potential.

In 2010, he won silver with a throw 63.69m. A throw of 63.23m got him a podium finish in Doha, so it can be expected that he will get better over the next two months. The women discus throwers had won all three medals on offer in Delhi but the count will be less this time.

“We won’t have home advantage, and moreover all the top athletes will be competing in Glasgow. We have to be at our best to expect a medal,” said Seema Antil, who will be competing in her third CWG. A closer look reveals the reasons for this apprehension.

The Delhi Games had 36 events in shooting, but 19 have been dropped in Glasgow. In the ones omitted, Indian shooters had bagged 17 medals, including eight gold and six silver. In wrestling, the Greco Roman category has been kept out, which will further set back India. In 2010, the country had seven medals, including four gold.

“The change in Glasgow’s schedule means we will win fewer medals,” said Thomson. This aspect has reflected on the monetary front. “The budget for preparations for the 2010 Games was double than what is being spent on Glasgow. But

The 2002 Manchester Games or 2010, wrestling has been the country’s strength at CWG. Indian wrestlers won 19 out of the 21 medals at stake in 2010, and of them 10 were gold. The tale will be different in Glasgow, as Greco Roman is missing from the list.

The event had contributed significantly to the kitty in Delhi, returning four gold, one silver and two bronze. The other setback will be Olympian Geeta Phogat’s absence after a knee operation.

Despite this, India can hope for a serious look at the 14 medals at stake on account of the quality of competition and a steady improvement of its grapplers on the world stage.

Shooting contributed the maximum medals in 2010, the marksmen bagging 30 medals, including 14 gold. In Glasgow, all the pairs events and men’s 25m centrefire and 25m standard pistol events have been dropped, thus limiting the number of events to 17 as compared to 36 in Delhi.

The events dropped in Glasgow had yielded 17 medals, nine gold, six silver in 2010. The only pairs event to be retained is in full bore rifle, which is also known as the Queen’s event, but it is not among India’s strengths.

Like wrestling, shooting has seen an upward curve with the country consistently improving its standing. Recently, trap shooter Manavjit Sandhu and air pistol shooter Heena Sidhu won gold in World Cups, and the latter is now world No 1 in her event.

Archery, the source of eight medals (three gold) in 2010, stands dropped in Glasgow. Also discomforting is the absence of tennis, which had yielded four medals.

Triathlon, one of the replacements, doesn’t hold out much hope but India can look forward to its judokas coming home with some medals. Weightlifting, badminton and table tennis had contributed 17 medals in 2010, and a similar show could well be on the cards.

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